French baker on hunger strike admitted to hospital

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A French baker who started a hunger strike eight days ago was admitted to hospital after passing out in his car – which was parked in front of his bakery in Besançon – at 8:30 am yesterday morning.
Stéphane Ravacley, 50, is on a hunger strike to protest against the potential expulsion of his apprentice Laye Fodé Traoré, from the Republic of Guinea.

The baker was treated by firefighters before being transferred to A&E. Although it is not a serious illness, Mr Ravacley said he felt “very weak” during his stay in the hospital.

In the past eight days, he has lost eight kilograms by drinking only broth.

Apprentice’s case will be reviewed later this month

His apprentice, Mr. Traoré, had to stop his training at the bakery, in which he has worked for 18 months.

Mr. Traoré arrived in France two years ago at the age of 16 and was allowed to stay due to his status as an unaccompanied minor. Since his arrival, he has learned French, started an apprenticeship and enrolled in the CAP bakery course.

Now that he is 18, he has received a deportation order, which he has challenged, with the case due for reconsideration on January 26.

His lawyer said the prefecture is currently concerned that Mr. Traoré’s identity papers are not authentic and is in the process of validating them with the Guinean embassy in France.

Broad support for Mr. Traoré

In addition to Mr. Ravacley’s hunger strike, a online petition to keep Mr. Traore in France has been launched and currently has over 230,000 signatures.

High-level French celebrities also expressed their support, in an open letter to President Macron published on January 11 in the weekly. L’Obs.

Actors Omar Sy, Marion Cotillard and writer Leïla Slimani signed the letter calling for a “just decision” – along with more than 40 other people, including many French mayors and politicians.

In addition to accusing the government of “turning a deaf ear” to Mr. Traore’s case, they wrote that Mr. Ravacley was in “fragile” health, with his hunger strike putting him at increased risk.

They said: “We cannot be insensitive to the fact that a French citizen puts his health at risk in order to defend humanist principles – freedom, equality, fraternity – which are intended to support the French Republic.

Stéphane Ravacley and Laye Fodé Traoré at La Huche à Pain bakery in Besançon (@ Mokobe113 / Twitter)

The apprentice hopes to stay in France

When asked why he chose to become an apprentice baker after arriving in France, Mr. Traoré said: “I chose pastry because it touches everything, you can build things. I like croissants and bread, [and] waking up early doesn’t bother me.

Mr Ravacley said of his apprentice: “He is one of the many young people who arrive on inflatable boats. They are looking for work and I was looking for a first year apprentice. We did a two month trial and it worked out fine. She’s a really discreet person [and] very kind. ”

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